yes, I know I said I was on holiday, and I am, but …
Way back in 1991, in the days when hardly anyone said ‘get over it’ (and meant it!), when lesbians on telly were even rarer hens’ teeth than they are now, when anything about being gay seemed to also necessitate a coming out trauma, when pretty much every gay relationship involved a ghastly heartbreak, when bisexual characters were more rare than the aforementioend rare hens’ teeth, and lesbian characters were still assumed to hate men and forego fancy shoes … I wrote a young woman who wasn’t like any of that. Who was tattooed and smart and more than a little reckless and had an ambivalent sexual past. She had a partner and they had great sex (sex that was written in the books, not just alluded to) and they even went on to have a kid (before the lesbian baby boom!).
Her name was Saz Martin and though some parts of the books are a little out of date now – no mobile phones!, where’s the internet?! – I believe the character is as fresh as she ever was. Serpent’s Tail, and Pete Ayrton in particular, were brave and cool to publish those books then, when The Women’s Press turned the first one down because they didn’t like the idea of a lesbian villain! And I’m delighted they are now, finally, getting them out on kindle.
The first of the series, Calendar Girl, came out in 1994. The last, Mouths of Babes, in 2005. I learned about writing in that period, I certainly learned how I write books (writing the crime series as well as quite a few of the others – Singling Out the Couples, Eating Cake, Immaculate Conceit, State of Happiness – at the same time). I can see the flaws in my early books really clearly, any writer can, but they got me started, I’m very proud of them as backlist, and I’m also proud of what they were doing – being out, being proud (while being very far from the gay ghetto), with LGBT characters who were as ordinary and extraordinary as the straight characters – but NEVER in the books just because they were gay.
Here then, with an awareness that not everyone kindles, and with a nod to remember we love indie bookshops, but also wanting the books to be available in the ether if not in print, AND sorry that they’re not in order (something to do with the files, beyond me and beyond the person explaining it to me!) is Wavewalker (in which Saz and Molly get together and have lots of sex and Saz follows up a psychological cult called The Process), and Beneath the Blonde (in which Saz becomes a bodyguard for a rock chick and gets some more sex*).
Three more to come.
Here’s some nice things people said about the Saz books :
“Very near the top of the new generation of crime writers.” The Times
“The clever money should be on Duffy when the crime-writing Oscars are dished out.” The Telegraph
“A promising writer has matured into a classic. ” The Guardian
“A vital, exuberant heroine fit to engage every reader’s sympathies.” Independent on Sunday
* like Sarah Lund, Saz is sometimes a bit rubbish at being a detective, gets herself and other people beaten up – unlike Sarah Lund she also gets a shag. Quite often. And, because I was writing this before I realised readers all too often assume the sex the heroine has is also the sex the writer has, I put it on the page. I know better now. But so do you, yes? I mean, you don’t think I killed anyone to get the murders right … do you?